“Low-T”–men’s health or men’s hype?

Today, Big Pharma excels at finding cures for problems that don’t exist. Especially when it comes to men’s health.

Just take the largely imaginary epidemic of “Low-T,” for example.

A new study found that millions of men are being treated unnecessarily for “Low-T.” Yet they don’t have low testosterone. Nor do they have any specific symptoms that would warrant treatment. I’ll tell you all about that study in a moment, but first let’s look at how this all got started…

In the early 1990s, Pfizer researchers made an accidental discovery while working on a new coronary heart disease treatment. In the clinical trials for the drug, men started to report increased erections.

Next thing you know, we saw former Senator and Presidential candidate Bob Dole on the TV stumping for the “little blue pill.” He even came to visit us at the ancient College of Physicians in Philadelphia.

Then came that sappy couple in the side-by-side bathtubs during the “Nightly News.”

All of a sudden, everyone was talking about the “epidemic” of ED sweeping the country. Yet a generation earlier, men (and women) accepted these changes as a normal part of aging. (Or, they found natural ways to boost their vitality.)

And now we have “Low T,” another pseudo-medical, largely imaginary epidemic.

The Low-T campaign follows a similar script as Viagra. Instead of developing a true therapeutic breakthrough to treat an actual disease, Big Pharma “medicalized” a normal life experience to promote its next “blockbuster” drug. And I warned about this trend 20 years ago in the first edition of my medical textbook on natural medicine (now entering its 5th edition).

To treat the new disorder of “Low-T,” many men use topical testosterone. Androgen replacement therapy (ART) is the latest offering. Like testosterone, androgen is a male hormone. And ART is a good name for this treatment because it has more to do with the “art” of business than the science of medicine.

In the last 10 years, American men ages 40 years and older have tripled their use of androgen replacement therapy (ART). And the use of testosterone topical gel has increased five-fold.

But is Low-T a real medical problem for these men?

The new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at just that.

For the study, researchers looked at nearly 11 million men nationwide. They found that 2.3 percent of men in their 40s and up to 3.8 percent of men in their 60s use ART. And doctors prescribe ART to many men who have normal testosterone levels. In addition, the men have no clear medical symptoms to warrant treatment. And nearly 20 percent of them received treatments for 30 days or less, which makes no sense medically.

On the flip side, I’m glad to see that at least 20 percent of men drop the treatment quickly. Hormone treatment is a very dangerous business. And ART can have toxic effects on the heart and other dangerous side effects.

The authors of the study suggested that the rise in ART prescriptions stems from Big Pharma’s aggressive marketing directly to consumers.

I, for one, risk becoming ignorant of world affairs because I switch off the TV during all those annoying commercials that run during the “Nightly News.” It seems the nightly news has become more interested in “affairs” other than those involving the world. For the first time, I am actually looking forward to the era of “interactive” TV, so that I can virtually “drown” that couple right in their side-by-side bathtubs!

Without a doubt, consumers are “drowning” in drug ads. And even ads disguised as unbiased reporting.

In an editorial for the new study, a medical writer confessed that he was once paid to “trumpet the party line” in articles he “ghost-authored” for a leading endocrinologist. These ads masquerading as true reporting ran in Life after 50, Woman’s Day, and even Business Week.

The same medical writer revealed that Big Pharma hired him to write a consumer “education” booklet about Low-T. He said it was “an uncritical, unbalanced presentation of ‘facts.’ And it served to drive people to their physicians, seeking the holy grail of ‘energy, positive mood and sexuality’ in the form of testosterone.”

The bigger issue?

These treatments increase a man’s risk of developing diseases that will require real medical treatments.

The JAMA study’s authors have similar concerns. They wrote: “We should recognize it for what it is: a mass, uncontrolled experiment that invites men to expose themselves to the harms of treatment unlikely to fix problems that may be wholly unrelated to testosterone levels.”

If you want to balance your testosterone levels, go with a balanced approach. For this, let’s come back to a concept I’ve introduced you to before: the truly revolutionary category of supplements called adaptogens.

Adaptogens do as the name suggests–they help your body adapt to changes. They’re so powerful and can help with so many conditions, I recommend that everyone take them every day. One such adaptogen is Sutherlandia frutescens out of South Africa.

Subscribers to my newsletter learned about this safe alternative to testosterone and ART in the March 2013 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter. If you aren’t yet a newsletter subscriber,  now is the perfect time to become one.


1. “Low T as in ‘Template’ How to Sell Disease,” JAMA Internal Medicine August 12/16, 2013; 173(15): 1460-1462